The canals are now in the best condition they’ve been all my lifetime. They hold a heck of a lot of fish and plenty of big ones too. You wouldn’t believe some of the fish that are in there and the true canal specialists make some terrific catches. In my area alone you’ve got specimen pike and zander. I’ve had big roach, specimen perch and eels to four pounds. You’ve got big canal carp -my mates have had them to over thirty pounds – and it’s strange to think that there’s probably more five-pound chub in the heart of the Black Country than in the River Thames these days.
We’re talking about top, top class fishing. Be in no doubt, when you take a walk or cycle on a canal and you’re half a mile from a bridge, you’re probably trying spots that never get fished. Canals are now very much part of the modern fishing scene. Just about all methods work. You can leger boilies or pole fish, you can try spinning, drop shotting or even trotting in the flows by lock gates.
Canal Map Uk Photo Gallery
Make no mistake: nowadays, canals aren’t so tough as they once were. These are beautiful waters with virtually uncaught fish. Once you’ve learned the ways of the canal and where the fish are, you’ll have some fabulous times to either share with your mates or have completely to yourself. So I say – enjoy canals for what they are. These are not commercials where you’ll catch a hundred pounds of carp. These are beautiful places: fabulous fisheries and often virgin fishing.
If I were pressed to put my finger on exactly what makes canal fishing so special, I would struggle to find a single answer. Perhaps the sheer variety of experience they provide defies any definitive reply. I’ve had brilliant days and blank days, on canals which were grim, industrial waters and on others which were some of the most beautifully idyllic places you could set eyes on. I’ve had great sessions catching smaller species; but then again, some of my biggest-ever specimen catches have come from canals. And whatever the conditions, canals offer consistent, sheltered fishing when other waters are flooded or closed.
Perhaps their attraction also starts with a certain nostalgia and the fact that the local towpath formed such an essential part of my own fishing education. It started with push bikes and perch, which were probably the only fish daft enough to be fooled by the naive antics of schoolboys. Greater success was a long learning-curve. It meant walking further, refining tactics and increasing one’s knowledge. Even the small victories meant something. To catch a tidy net of roach and skimmers felt like a huge achievement.
Certain memories stand out clear as daylight over twenty years later. One was the time I attended my first canal match, joining the old heads with my rattling tackle box and a selection of rods and bank sticks held together with elastic bands. Rather than mock, the regulars were helpful and welcoming, treating me as one of their own. To their amazement as much as my own in that first match I caught a string of perch, rudd and eels on the pole to win my section and a ten pound note into the bargain.
You just never quite know what the day will bring on a canal, that much is still true. You simply never stop learning and making new discoveries, and in one sense I pity youngsters raised on today’s predictably muddy and overstocked pools.